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Subject: War! What is it good for? rss

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Will Yum
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I got to play Concordia with the Salsa expansion for the second time last night. It was a five player game and had some great highs and lows!

Set Up:

We used the new Byzantium map, the salt resources, and the forum tiles.

We randomly gave every player a Blue/Permanent forum tile at the start of the game. We didn't want to have to auction as it would take up a lot of time.

We used the basic set up/distribution of resources and money (so we all had the same stuff in our warehouses, with the first player starting with 5 coins, second with 6, and so on).

Cast:

First player (determined randomly with magic) was J. He had the forum tile that gives you an extra movement. He is a very thoughtful and competitive gamer and loves to win. devil He is very skilled in Dominion and loves other deck building games as well as games such as Tzolkien, CoB, and Tichu. He owns the base game and has played it several times.

Second player was Da. He had the forum tile that gave extra coin when you used the Prefect on a region for resources. He seems to have a natural affinity for Concordia cool and an almost unbeaten record of victory in the game. He's played the base game several times as well.

Third in the lineup was De. He is the happy new owner of Salsa and has played it 2-3 times now. He loves Russian Railroads, Tichu, and a variety of other games. He makes thoughtful moves, but doesn't suffer from AP. He beat me by a mere seven points in the only previous game of Salsa I played. He got the extra warehouse storage forum tile that came with a free brick.

Fourth was me. I shall be known as W. I had the +one coin bonus tile when I sold goods with the Mercator. I am very focused on details and rules and love a variety of games. I remember being boggled by the scoring system of Concordia and have played enough games to think about some basic strategies. meeple

Fifth, but not last, was B. He was the least experienced with Concordia as he had only played 2 or 3 games in the past. We gave him a short refresher about the rules as well the the forum tile that allowed him to sell a bonus good immediately when using Prefect for goods. He loves deck building/drafting games and is no stranger to a wide range of Euros.

==

I had suggested that we use the advanced resource start, but in the interest of time, we went with the same resource start.

The board had an interesting distribution with both a Salt and Cloth city in the same upper right region. The second Cloth city was also paired in a region with Salt in the lower left. And the final Cloth was alone on the land in the bottom right corner.

I reminded B. that those who do not buy cards with the Senator are going to lose. This sentiment was supported by the other players and repeated a few times during the course of play.

J. started off with a bold move. He dashed up to the NE corner and took the Salt city immediately. He used his extra move to sail to the space between Salt and Cloth but was sadly lacking in money to buy both. Well, sad for him and good for everyone else.

[I think now that he should have used his extra move to advance his other colonist towards the inner lands.]

Da. went east. He settled in a couple of the basic resource lands and would be the only person who overlapped with me for most of the game. In fact, it became a common theme that J., De., and B. would soon be activating region that offered at least of them benefits with me/W. and Da. left out in the cold.

De. went south and later felt that he should have diverged a bit in his exploration. He did get to the SW Cloth city pretty early.

I had a choice to make as I had been eyeing the new personality cards for sale. I decided to forgo the common strategy of getting two cities immediately and played my Senator instead. I had enough to get two cards, but it left me very resource poor. The main reason I took this road was because the very first card for sale was a Colonist/Mars card. Amazing! I also got the second, which was a Prefect card. Like I had been saying, not buying cards means you lose. So I ducked a turn (or more) in the building race.

B. went to the west and then headed south as well. He build two of the regular resource cities, but would soon reach the Salt and Cloth region in the SW.

==

I had to spend some time activating regions to get resources because even though my money (8 coins) was untouched, I had nothing with with to build. We were all also eyeing the forum tiles as they were new and shiny ninja and some pretty powerful ones came out early – notably the Build a City with No Coin Cost tile and the Build a Salt City for a Single Tool tile.

I was very slow and kept in the east area and managed to build a total of four cities. They were just Wheat and Tools. Then I grabbed a Brick city and another one. But I was stuck at six cities for most of the entire game. This was due to a lack of resources and bad timing of my money generation.

J. had only five cities for most of the game. But he went with the high falutin' city strategy. He was able to get Cloth city next to his Salt city in the NE and was soon Prefecting that area for major gains. He ventured down south and got into the second Salt city as well. And later he grabbed the last Salt city (directly south on the board) before I could even get close. He ended up with just high resource generators until the very end of the game.

Da. was focused on getting a range of cities in order to better apply the Mercury strategy. I love that strategy myself as it requires just five cities for max value on all Mercury cards. And Da. managed to buy all buy one of the Mercury cards in the game. It would be his highest scoring god.

De. was quite resource rich the entire game. He was benefiting left and right from sharing space with J. and B. The three of them would Prefect their regions and De. would get free stuff. It was a classic example of the idea of “Sharing is Caring.” Sadly, Da. and W. were left out and we could only watch as they bathed in free Cloth and free Salt.

B. had more of a slow start but did manage to get several cities in the center area. He had one high Cloth city and the rest were the middle resources. He remembered to buy cards and to gather forum tiles. There was one exquisite move where he was getting three resources and had only two empty spaces but used his forum tile to sell a Wine for coin immediately. It was glorious!

==
As the game progressed, I tried to get to the SE Cloth as it was reachable only by land and not water. But to my chagrin, Da. arrived first and build there first, making it too expensive for me. I had dilly dallied getting Cloth on a previous turn.

J. managed to preempt me as well when he Tribuned to get forum tile for a cheap Salt city. It was unexpected and almost crushed my spirit! cry

But then I bought the forum tile that allows you to use a Diplomat to copy any of the unsold cards. This would prove to be my salvation – even though I didn't know it then.

==
J. was producing quite a lot of high resources and had quite a bit of money. He bought a few cards and got some of the forum tiles. He was also able to get the Weaver card by paying an extremely high price – but it was worth at least 25 points to him at the time.

Da. stayed in the SE area along with me, but spread out more. He was snatching up the Mercury cards as soon as he could and lost only one. He did get a Cloth city, but none of the Salt. His moves were fast as well planned as is his style.

De. was the richest and also gaining from the generosity of others. He was spreading out and soon had 7 or 8 cities – the most of all of us for the majority of the game. He did end up using Salt for resources other than Cloth because of some timing issues. I managed to get the Wheat Minerva card before he could grab it. It wasn't many points for me, but more of a blocking move on my part.

B. was working steadily in the middle regions and also went south for his Wine city. He later spoke about how his strategy was a bit unfocused because of his lack of familiarity with the scoring and tracking of victory points.

I was focused on the Mars cards. It is a basic strategy, and since I was hardly building anything and not expanding, I needed to work on something that didn't involve competition. With the Diplomat forum tile I was exceeding lucky as a Consul card was in the market and I was able to copy that to buy a couple of the Mars cards once they came out. I was able to buy all but one of the Mars cards by paying dearly for the ones I could not copy-Consul.

J. impressed us by buying three Consul cards in a short window of time. He played them to good effect, but also allowed us to copy him on our turns.

==

The dynamics played differently with the forum tiles and with Salt and the set up and sharing. There was a lot of Prefecting for resources and the money added up. There was one turn where B. was able to Prefect for 11 coins (!).

Near the end there was a rush for cards. And then a slight stall with only two cards left when we all build and gathered resources for the final push.

I still had three colonists left in my warehouse and had the Tools but no Wheat. I had to spend a Mercator turn to buy the Wheat I needed as I had so few cities. Fortunately, I was able to get all my colonists out on the penultimate turn.

On the final turn, J. got presence in all the Salt and Cloth cities to max out his Cloth Minerva. Da. was able to get all five resources for his Mercury strategy. De. was spreading out and got blocked out of a Wine city by Da.'s final move. This would end up costing De. around 11 points in the final tally. I bought a house in the SE upper Cloth city to help out in both regions and types of cities owned as my final move. B. regretted ending the game despite the bonus seven points as he figured out later that building would have generated him more points.

==

Throughout the game, it appeared that either J. or De. would win as they both had massive amounts of capital all of the time. I would have bet money that they were going to first and second.

I was fighting not to be last as I knew that Da. was really good at the game and that B. was building well despite his newness. I figured that being in the middle would give me the moral victory.

Well. It turns out that War is good for something. whistle We scored in order and I ended the game in the lead with 105 points. It was glorious! Unexpected and totally baffling as my only major score was the five Mars cards for 60 points.

J. was second with 97, De. third with 95, Da. fourth with 92, and B. at 90. The point spread was a mere 15 points.

==
I really like this expansion. The components are great despite having to cover the forum tiles. The new Prefect Magnus tile is a great addition. The forum tiles are very cool.

If the forum tiles are completely randomized for each player to get one at the start, there will be failure. I think auctioning or just giving out blue tiles to start is the way to go.

I like how one needs to plan more about when to Tribune with the tiles in play. And it adds a lot of options and variety to the game.

I think that Salt may be overvalued. I just realized that it costs 11 + 5 coins to build!!! It's most useful for Minerva boosting I think.

I think that the customized resource start is more limiting but allows for more customization and planning.

The map is great and the smaller side worked well for the two player game I played with De. earlier in the week.



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Will Yum
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OP here.

Adding some more notes and addenda.

===

After W. bought the first two cards, the next ones in line were the Minerva cards for Tools and Wheat. And J. points out that since there was little rushing towards those two types of cities (other than by Da. and W.) there was less incentive to get those cheaper cards. This means that the cards that were bought came from the middle and cost more.

The point spread was 14 points, so my memory of the scores were off a little bit. No one tied though.

Da. was the most efficient as he ended the game with no coins at all! He spent it all exactly with his final Architect move and build.

De. received a Cloth and a Salt in the same round because of other people Prefecting regions where he had cities.

The forum tile giving one Brick and one Tool was obtained by B., but it was too late for him to use it. It didn't even help to use to sell at the end of the game as it wasn't enough coin to move up another increment of ten.

The forum tile for Three Mercator Trades was obtained by Da., but also somewhat late in the game and used just once.

The Five Victory Point forum tile did NOT appear at all. It would have made a great difference in ranking in this particular game.

My observation is that the power and utility of the forum tiles range greatly and some are basically useless at certain phases of the game.

Very few ships sailed to the lower sea in our game. Only near the end game did anyone go there to grab cities. There were three empty cities near the end of the game before the last rush for buildings occurred. That seemed quite unusual compared to previous games with the base set. I wonder if trying to get forum tiles is delaying the cycling of our cards, in particular the Architect, and thereby changing the ebb and flow of expansion.

No one was close to building all of their cities.

De. had the forum tile that allows Building Through Contact with Another Colonist but never had to use it.
 
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Richard Lea
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Thank you for your detailed report on this great game.
 
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Evan Stegman
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Nice report.

Just one thing:

willyum wrote:
...

We randomly gave every player a Blue/Permanent forum tile at the start of the game. We didn't want to have to auction as it would take up a lot of time.
...


The basic, non-auction set up is to randomly give two and allow them to keep one.

See Step 4:



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Will Yum
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I didn't know! Thank you for pointing this out. I like it. laugh
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